As I mentioned in my post on Sunday, my inbox has been quite busy recently. I've received several notes from past colleagues of Terry Childs, some who worked with him well before he was employed by the City of San Francisco, some more recently. Each one of them portray him in a positive light, and universally refer to him as a gifted network engineer.
Other emails offer some other interesting points of view. I received note from Richard Childers that definitely struck a chord. In pondering this situation, he reflected that most organizations actually demand an above-and-beyond attitude from their top network architects and admins:
"... search Craigslist's 'Jobs' section for the keyword "ownership". I see 674 references to the word, the majority of them in the IT-related industries.
Sure, it's a buzzword, but it's also a way of life for many IT professionals. We are paid to TAKE OWNERSHIP. We get bonuses for seeing problems and fixing them -- also known as BEING PROACTIVE."
His point is well taken. He also offers some justification for withholding sensitive information from management:
"I think it is perfectly acceptable to resist turning that information over to someone who is going to keep it in an unsecured spreadsheet, on an unsecured laptop that she carries home with her, on BART. Security is only as good as its weakest link -- and I'm guessing that insuring the city government's security was Childs' job description. He probably held himself to a high standard - and wanted his management to do the same."
To me this might be taking things a bit too far, but without actually being there, who can really say? If an admin gives in to a management demand for sensitive network login information, and that information is subsequently leaked and used to compromise the system, we all know who has the responsibility of fixing everything in the aftermath, but who gets the blame?
[ Follow the Terry Childs saga with InfoWorld special report: Terry Childs: Admin gone rogue. ]
Childers also takes me to task:
"It would be nice if you stood apart from the crowd and STOPPED hedging your bets by saying things to make it clear that you're NOT defending this poor guy, and just make it your JOB to get in touch with him and to tell HIS side of the story."
I've tried to arrange for an interview with Terry, but his attorney isn't letting anyone talk to him, apparently. As for me, I'm still trying to get all the information. While the details are certainly clearer this week than they were last week, I'm not certain that we've heard the whole story yet. For instance, the city still needs to come up with a statement on this case that makes some technical sense. Until then, I don't think that taking a firm position one way or the other is necessarily a good idea.
On another note, I'm in the process of putting together a post with more information on the details of this case, including pertinent information on the specifics of the criminal complaint against Childs, and his responses. It certainly makes for interesting reading.